(Amman/Damascus, 15 March 2013): As the crisis in Syria reaches the end of two years, the suffering of Syrian civilians keeps growing, protection obligations under international humanitarian law continue to be ignored by the parties to the conflict, and the challenges confronting the humanitarian community continue to mount.
The numbers of people in need inside the country, estimated at four million in December, have significantly increased; we are currently working on obtaining revised numbers. Syrian refugees in the region, 33,000 one year ago, now number over 1.1 million, while thousands continue to pour out of the country every day across the largely open borders of generous neighbouring countries. These massive numbers represent almost one-quarter of the total population of Syria. The numbers of dead and injured increase by the day; the physical destruction of the country grows ever more comprehensive.
“An average Syrian family has five members,” said Radhouane Nouicer, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator. “Any family may have been traumatised and uprooted, the children out of school, the household increasingly impoverished. Shelter, water, food, basic supplies, health care—all are precarious. Moreover, the civilian space is eroding as there is almost no place deemed to be safe. Syrians have no idea when, or if, they will have a normal life again. Multiply the distress of that one family by one million, and that is what we are looking at here,” he said.
“The humanitarian community is chasing ever-changing goalposts,” he said. “Despite all that we have accomplished, we are not managing to reach all people in need now, and the numbers grow by the hour; the chaotic situation does not allow for the collection of accurate data about people in need across the country. And in any case, it is not possible to meet 100% of the needs with only 21% of the funding required for the first half of 2013. That math just doesn’t work. It translates into less food, fewer blankets, fewer medicines, less clean water. Nevertheless, despite the extremely low funding, as well as access constraints and insecurity, we have managed to provide a surprising amount of aid.”
As this crisis enters its third year, the UN and its partners are undertaking one of the largest humanitarian aid efforts, in monetary terms, in the history of the United Nations. Without increased funding, some activities will not get off the ground or will simply stop. Meanwhile, human suffering grows by the day.
“Humanitarian aid cannot make up for the lack of a political solution in Syria. Food, clean water, mattresses, hygiene kits, shelter, and health care: these are not a cure—they are just a temporary palliative. The need for a political solution has become very urgent. Otherwise this horrific conflict will irreversibly jeopardize Syria and its future generations,” Mr. Nouicer said.
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- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.